Athletic abilities matter for aspiring student-athletes; and yes, it is the #1 criterion to sell for most of you. But, don't underestimate what your academic achievements at high school can do for you and read more on how a good GPA can open doors and options for you...
Many athletes often purely rely on their success in sports. This can work out perfectly and it does so all the time. But there's still more to college recruiting and the application process than just athletic results, goals, or personal bests. By having a great academic record from high school, you make yourself even more interesting to college coaches. Our Friday Scholarship Guide today focuses on one puzzle piece in particular: the grade point average (GPA), which is an essential part of the recruiting process with interested coaches.
Colleges have varying levels of selectivity. Some accept all or almost all high school graduates, so-called "open-admission colleges". Then there's a big number of universities, which are only somewhat selective and accept around 75% of applicants. And finally schools which are a lot more selective and accept less than 25% of total applicants.
A key element of your application is your high school grade point average. While there's a lot more to your application, many admissions offices place great emphasis on this single digit number. Every college defines what to consider most important and how to select the applicants.
For you as an athlete, a high GPA has one great advantage: You have even more colleges to choose from, because you don't limit yourself to academically less selective colleges only. Plus, admissions officers are not going to complain about your top-of-the-class grades, even though they might attach greater significance to other parts of your application. It's basically the same for the top high school athletes in sports: They have a much wider range of choices to pick from.
Now imagine you would be an outstanding athlete AND an excellent student. Hard to believe you would not be able to find your personal best scholarship match from all the choices you will have.
Besides merit based scholarship money for athletic skills, there's another form of merit based financial aid, for academic abilities: academic scholarships.
As you know, the GPA is a track record of your academic ability and one important puzzle piece of the application. Test scores (SAT, ACT, TOEFL for Internationals) and extracurricular activities also matter a great deal, but let's stick to your high school grades for now. A very good GPA will put you in a position, where you could be eligible to receive academic grants. If that's something you have a realistic shot at, you should keep your options open. Maintain a high GPA throughout high school, and you'll increase your attractiveness as a recruit. If colleges grant you money for your academic achievements, you will become "cheaper" for the coaches. And again you increase your options, as coaches always take a look at your grades.
But there's another major reason why coaches screen your grades. They do so because they need to assure that you will be declared eligible by the sports-governing organizations, such as the NCAA, NAIA, or the NJCAA.
One part of the eligibility has to do with your athletic past. Have you earned any money, have you played professionally, or practiced with professional teams? The other part of the clearing process is all about finding out whether you fulfill the academic criteria. A high GPA indicates to the coach that there should most likely not be any issues related to passing the scholastic tests with an acceptable score. In fact, the higher the GPA, the worse you can do on the SAT and ACT to fulfill the minimum requirements.
By bringing a high GPA to the table, coaches can lean back and almost stop worrying about your academic eligibility and instead focus on what really matters to them: your athletic achievements and skill set.
Last but not least, your good grades will give the coaches confidence in how you'll do at college. Apart from sports, they have several reasons why they also want to see their athletes excel in the classroom. The most essential one however is because student-athletes need to maintain a certain academic level to keep their eligibility to compete for their respective college team. Read in one of our other articles why GPA and other academic results matter: Do Academic Results Matter for College Coaches?
After all, there's nothing more frustrating for coaches than having to give important team members a break from competing, while they are still on a partial or full-ride scholarship.
We hope you understand how valuable your efforts from your high school time can prove to be. Don't miss out on this opportunity of positioning yourself both as a strong athlete and a strong, ambitious student in the classroom. This can really pay off for you. As always, please feel free to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org in case you have any further questions. If you liked this article, please go ahead and share it. It never hurts to remind people to get their grades right :)